Finally decided to revamp your website?

So, you’ve had the inkling that you need to upgrade or revamp your website for a while, and finally you have decided, let’s get this done. Once you’ve decided, it’s full speed ahead!

Your website is an important part of your marketing, the central hub of your website presence, and it will take time and money to create a successful site that does all you need it to. To help you along, I have written these 7 things your website designer should do and know to ensure a successful outcome.

1. Plan a site structure based on your business objectives

Websites have to be made for purpose – and every business is unique and has different needs. The information to be used in the website needs to be divided up in a clear and easy to navigate way, and link names should be considered carefully so they are both intuitive and informative.

2. Understand how web users think and what makes them click further into the site and stay on the site

A good website designer will be constantly keeping up to date with how users interact with websites, what works, and what makes sense to users. This means they will need to understand the humans who visit the website, as well as the infrastructure that makes the website work.

3. Get full design sign off before building the site

It’s your website, and it’s important that you are happy with the design and feel it is right for your business. It is much harder to change the layout of the site after the website is built in “HTML” so a good website design company will ensure you are 100% happy with the design – enough to sign it off officially!

4. Understand SEO and how to build a search engine optimised site

Although there are specialist Search Engine Marketing companies who can help put your website “out there”, so that search engines find you – there are still a lot of “best practices” which determine the way the website is structured and built, the way the links and pages are named, and the way the headlines and images are labelled, which all help the website stay “healthy” for search engines.

5. Properly test all forms, include validation and a thank you page

It’s amazing how often forms on websites don’t work properly. It should not be possible to submit a blank form, and when you do submit the form, you should be taken to a nice thank you page, telling you where to go next.

6. Check what devices the site needs to work on

The site needs to be coded well so that it not only looks right but also works in all modern browsers and the different mobile devices. More and more people will be checking websites on different devices and the site should be visible and easy to find and navigate.

7. Not sell you functionality you don’t need

All too often website designers/developers oversell to clients – but any functionality you buy has to make sense for your habits, your behaviour, and your budget. You may feel you need a full on CMS (client management system) but it could be something you add later. Or you may think you need an online forum where you could be getting the same or better results from LinkedIn groups or Facebook pages. Think carefully and consider a phased approach.

Have I missed anything? Comments welcome! Hope you have found this useful. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or would like to know more!

Keren Lerner

Keren has been running Top Left Design since January 2002 and is an experienced designer and an expert on usability and accessibility and using design to communicate clear marketing messages. She also regularly trains fellow business people and budding entrepreneurs in social media, blogging, the principles of good website design, creating effective email newsletters and improving their online reputation. Her mission is to 'clean up the internet' and empower clients to represent and promote themselves in a way they can be proud of.

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